Drunken driving crash leads to 11-year prison sentence
FRONT ROYAL – A Winchester woman has been sentenced to 11 years in prison for a drunken driving crash that left the driver in another vehicle paralyzed from the neck down.
The sentence for Dina Lee Miller, 51, far exceeds the state sentencing guidelines for the crimes to which she pleaded guilty: maiming a person as a result of drunken driving, failing to report an accident with an injury and failing to report an accident with property damage. Court documents show Circuit Judge Ronald Napier imposed the sentence after concluding Miller lacked sincere remorse over the victim’s injuries and had not shown genuine acceptance of responsibility.
Napier also cited the seriousness of the injuries suffered by the victim, Terry Baker, of Front Royal, and the extent of his hospitalizations, operations and medical bills that resulted from the accident.
A victim’s impact statement filed by Mary Baker, the wife of Terry Baker, said the two were traveling south on U.S. 522 on Jan. 10 when their SUV driven by Terry Baker was hit by a 2014 Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck driven by Miller.
Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Bryan Layton said his evidence showed that Miller had been drinking earlier in the day and began to argue with her husband while he was driving the pickup truck on U.S. 522.
Miller grabbed the wheel from her husband, which led to the pickup truck leaving the road, hitting a guardrail and coming to a stop, Layton said. The couple got out of the truck, and onlookers joined Miller’s husband as he inspected the damage and looked for a cell phone that Miller had tossed from the vehicle during their argument, Layton said.
In the meantime, Miller slipped behind the wheel of the truck and took off into the roadway where she struck the Baker vehicle, Layton said. Layton said Miller stopped momentarily, then tried to get away by attempting to drive over the median. Miller’s damaged pickup truck had trouble gaining traction on the median, which allowed a passerby to run up to the truck and remove her from the vehicle before she could flee the scene, Layton said.
Layton stated that Miller refused to take a breath test after a state trooper placed her under arrest for drunken driving.
Mary Baker said in her victim impact statement that her husband suffered a broken neck and vertebra in the accident.
“As of right now, my husband can only move his head, neck and shoulders, and he has slight movement in his left arm, but nothing else,” Mary Baker wrote. “My husband will never be the same. He will never walk again, he will never work again. As of right now, he cannot feed himself or brush his teeth or reach up and scratch his head. He will never hold my hand or hug me or slow dance with me. Terry was active in the Elks Lodge as an officer and probably will not be able to do that again. What Ms. Miller did to my husband that day is unforgivable.”
Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or firstname.lastname@example.org
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